in memory of freyja

Dear Freyja,

It’s hard to think that you’re really gone. It feels like you were here, “wheeking” for your veggies one day, and now, suddenly, you’re missing.

I had noticed that you were starting to get tired just a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like you weren’t as active as you usually were, and I could see some changes happening in your body, too. When guinea pigs start to show their age, they tend to go downhill fast, and you were no exception.

Still, saying goodbye seems shocking and unreal.You have been a best buddy to Kaya, especially for the past year or so. She diligently brought veggies, pellets, and water to you and Claire every evening, and you got to know the sound of her feet on the stairs and the tone of her voice. Just days before you died, you were still excitedly looking for her and your treat when you heard her.

Kaya has been absolutely crushed. You were a huge part of her world, and missing you is her first real experience with grief. It has been painful to watch my own baby cry for you and know that I can’t fix it. She wants you back. I am utterly helpless.

Kaelyn, Nella, and Eve have been sad, too. Eve went to look for you first thing this morning when we told her you had died, and she keeps saying, “I miss Freyja” and “Where’s Freyja?”.

You were always so friendly, so outgoing, and loved being petted and held. You loved your treats. You felt like a special gift to me, because you always reminded me of my very first guinea pig, Maggie, with the way your fur fell over your ears, how confidently you’d walk around the cage, and how chatty you were. In some ways, her memory lived on in you.

We had a little funeral for you this morning. Michael took care of everything logistical, and I was so grateful. We all gathered around to say goodbye. There were so many tears, and everyone had one last look at you before Daddy lowered you gently into your final resting place.

He covered you in a blanket of dirt, and then each of the girls placed a carrot (your favorite treat) on the grave, ultimately creating a heart shape. He filled in the remaining gap with more dirt, and through tears, I choked out a short poem I found online.

We have all loved you so very much. Thank you for all the joy you brought to our family, sweet Freyja.

I hope to plant something beautiful over your grave, so we can remember you every year when the flowers bloom.

Love you forever.

Freyja, July 2015 – July 27, 2021

(written July 28th)

four years of freyja and claire

As of the end of summer, we’ve had our sweet guinea pig girls for four whole years! I feel like they were little babies just yesterday, jumping around their cage and looking for all the food they could get. Not much has really changed, except that they are a whole lot bigger now and doing a little less jumping, but they’re still always ready for a snack.If you’ve known me for a long time, you probably remember that before I had human babies, I had two guinea pig fur babies (Maggie and Juni). This blog was pretty much taken over by them (and any other animal I encountered in my Animal Science program at Virginia Tech), but Freyja and Claire really haven’t been in the limelight much compared to my first piggies. Nevertheless, they are just as sweet and very cherished. I still think guinea pig lips are some of the cutest things ever.

The best part of having guinea pigs now is that I get to share them with my children, who love them so much. Freyja and Claire live indoors, but on this day, we had a “pignic”, where we took them outside to munch on some grass. Everyone loved it. There was definitely some carrot bribery involved for these photos.It’s not obvious which pig is dominant, although I am fairly certain it’s Freyja. She’s not a bully in any way, but if it comes down to the last cucumber, she takes it. She is definitely more outgoing and comfortable with people.They’ve gotten better about having baths and their nails trimmed. They don’t love it by any means, but they don’t try to jump out of the sink quite as much anymore. They wheek for food every night when they hear the basement door open. Lately, they’ve started overturning their little hideout houses, and every time I go down there, I fix them, only to find them upside down again the next time. I’m not quite sure how they do it, but I think they must be having fun.We sure love our piggies!

five on friday (06/07)

Happy Friday!!! I’ve just managed to squeeze this post in before the day is through!

ONE. We had our church “carnival night” a couple of weeks ago, and the girls had the best time ever. I loved seeing their happy faces the whole evening. Who wouldn’t be excited about snow cones, popcorn, and a water relay race?Treats galore!Kaya and Kaelyn helped color the sign for the snow cone stand before it started. They are such great helpers!TWO. We’ve been attempting to work out in the yard a little more now that the weather’s been nice. I showed these girls how to pull weeds, and to my surprise, they thought it was so much fun. I’m hoping this is an activity they’ll love for a long time to come!Apparently, pulling weeds can turn you into a monster!At least this monster has a very cute smile.We also started some seeds in containers! I know we’re a little late for this season-wise, but we started the lima beans indoors as part of our plant unit for school. Since I knew I had some leftover seeds from when we attempted to grow a real garden two years ago, we figured we’d plant them and see what happens. From left to right: cucumber, two beans, and two tomatoes. They are growing just a little and I have hope for these tiny plants.Kaya loves her beans and takes care of them diligently every day.As does Kaelyn!THREE. Baby Eve had a big milestone this week…  her first-ever pony tail!!! It’s the tiniest thing ever, but it just made my heart so happy all day long.Those eyes!To take pictures, I have to distract her with random objects, like my lens cap. FOUR. Kaya and Kaelyn are still working hard at swim lessons, and this week, I finally got them some goggles that actually work properly. They have been wearing these around nonstop and playing “swim lesson” all day long!Nella borrows them sometimes and gets in on it, too!FIVE. Freyja and Claire were having some skin problems a couple months ago, but after a vet visit and a few rounds of meds, they are looking (and feeling) like their old amazing selves! We’ve been really enjoying seeing them so happy. Nella loves to prepare veggies for them. She also calls them the “Whee Whees!” since they make a “wheek wheek” sound when they’re hungry. Carrots for everyone!I can’t believe these piggies are almost 4 years old already!

Happy weekend!

five favorites (10/16)

I’ve somewhat accidentally turned my Five on Fridays into Monday Favorites lately, just because it always seems like the end of the week has been too hectic to squeeze in any computer time. Better late than never, although I would really like to be ready to do it on Friday next time! Here are some favorites from last week:

ONE. On Labor Day weekend, we went couch shopping, and ended up ordering a sectional sofa, which Michael had been dreaming about doing for a long time. It was delivered this week (a whole month early!), and we’ve been enjoying it. Now that we have a family of five (I still can’t believe that sometimes!), we really didn’t have enough seating, especially when people came over, so this has been perfect. We broke it in with a family movie night! And I love this picture of Michael and the girls. TWO. These girls and these guinea pigs! Be still my heart. I love that they love animals and want to spend time snuggling with and feeding carrots to Freyja and Claire. THREE. Who is this big kid working on math all by herself? Kaya is far enough into her math curriculum where I can give her a few questions to work on and then leave her to figure them out on her own. We just finished doing number bonds, and now we’ve started addition. Math is her very favorite subject, and I’m so proud of all her progress! FOUR. Kaelyn loves dressing and accessorizing herself, and her big eyes completely melt me. She’s also obsessed with her little wind-up chicken, and asked me to take a picture of her with it. She’s also been loving playing with kinetic sand. She uses my cookie scoop to make little balls of “dough” over and over, and then asks us which cookie we want. FIVE. When your pediatrician has a Hokie Bird painted in the exam room, you have to take a picture with it! 🙂 Kaelyn was so excited to see this big guy. Taking all three of them in for shots is no joke, though- we had almost a full hour of crying, but everyone is healthy and now we’ve had our first round of flu shots for the season. Pony band-aids for everyone (and oh Nella’s chubby thighs)!

Happy Monday!

five on friday (06/30)

It’s super late and I should be in bed, but I have a hard time letting a Friday go by without listing five great things from the week!

ONE. The biggest event of the week- our second sweet princess turned 3 years old! We had her party last weekend, but on her real birthday, we went out to the local bakery and treated her to any cookie she wanted. She, of course, chose one that had a 10:1 frosting to cookie ratio. A girl after my own heart! She was beaming as we sang “happy birthday” to her right in the middle of the mall. We went to play on the indoor playground afterward. I love how the simple things are her favorites.

TWO. Grandma came down for Kaelyn’s party, and stayed for a couple of days at the start of the week. We had a nice long walk and some time at the playground and in the yard with her. These girls sure love their Grandma Debbie (even if I could only convince two of them to get into a photo with her)…

THREE. My garden is growing! For real! I’m amazed to see these plants growing so big, and I’m actually getting kind of attached to them, so here’s to hoping that nothing comes along and eats them. There’s no produce yet, but I have a couple of cucumber plants… … some green beans… …and one lone cherry tomato plant. I’m so excited to hopefully see some food growing on these soon!

FOUR. What’s cuter than a baby in just a tank top and her diaper? One of my favorite things about summer is being able to leave her arms and legs bare so I can see those squishy little rolls of hers! Baby chub is the best.

Also, these little toes!

FIVE. It’s been a while since Freyja and Claire have graced the blog with their presence, so here they are in all their fuzzy glory. Kaya and Kaelyn helped me give them a little “spa night” a couple weeks ago, where they had baths and got their nails clipped. The pigs didn’t enjoy the process, but I can tell you that they do like to feel clean when it’s all done. Claire reminds me of a little teddy bear!Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (08/05)

ONE. We’ve been enjoying cooler, less humid evenings this week! The weather last weekend was just perfect for bringing the guinea pigs outside to enjoy some fresh air and nibble on grass. It was their first time out, and I think they really loved it!

Kaya and Kaelyn thought it was so much fun to have Freyja and Claire “playing” outside with them. Kaelyn repeatedly came up to them, pet them, and softly said “awwwwwww”!

TWO. We did the letter B for preschool this week, which entailed some super-fun sensory play! I filled up the water table with some rainbow bubbles (the idea is from here, although I used liquid food coloring, and the colors disappeared pretty quickly once the girls started playing with it). They had a blast mixing, whisking, scooping, and finding all the hidden rubber ducks for over an hour.


THREE. I have a new favorite double chocolate chip muffin recipe! I’ve made these a few times now, and have figured out that they’re just as good with half the amount of sugar and some of the chocolate chips reserved for sprinkling on top. Mmmm!

FOUR. This girl and her dress-up outfits… I think my dinosaur-fox-princess-ballerina is ready for the runway!08022016_1

FIVE. There’s nothing like a girl and her… frog?! Apparently, his name is “Buggy Froggy” (because frogs eat bugs, obviously), and Kaya has been bringing him everywhere all week long. I love my little stuffed animal lovers.

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (1/08)

I think I just keep pretending we’re still on vacation… so I know I still haven’t posted any photos from our Christmas day yet (maybe because I took too many and still haven’t gone through them all… ha), but we had a good week, and I couldn’t let it go undocumented.

These small, seemingly-mundane posts usually turn out to be some of my favorites when I go back and read them later.

ONE. Winter has finally arrived on our little hillside- we had our first snow! It didn’t really accumulate, but it came down in big, fluffy flakes, so I’m counting it. The girls were quite excited… especially Kaelyn, since she is too young to remember the many blizzards we had last year!

TWO. What better food to eat during the cold weather than warm, gooey pancakes? Kaya and Kaelyn have had pancakes for breakfast every single day this week. My mom gave me a griddle for Christmas, so I put it to good use by making a double batch of these and freezing them._MG_0687

THREE. We also tried a couple of new recipes this week, including these buffalo chicken wings and these cheesy potatoes. Both were keepers!FOUR. We did get back on track with our homeschool preschool this week, after taking a couple weeks off for the holidays. Kaya has been SO excited and asks me to “do school” almost as soon as she wakes up every morning. We did the letter “D” and so of course, we had to make a “dog” craft.


FIVE. We had some fun times with Karl (and Kaitlyn) this week! Mario Kart Wii and Apples to Apples Pictures will never get old. I also love that Karl loves my guinea pigs as much as I do!_MG_0684Happy weekend! Keep warm (like Freyja)! 🙂_MG_0708

five on friday (10/09)

Happy Friday! Our week felt busy and flew by. Here are my favorite little moments:

ONE. Every morning when I get her out of her crib, she always has the biggest grin, and sleepy, happy eyes.  I love lifting her up into a big hug and planting a bunch of smooches on those soft baby cheeks of hers._MG_9465_MG_9467

TWO. Michael’s parents were here at the beginning of the week, and took us out to Cracker Barrel one night! I had my fill of my favorite mac and cheese, and Kaya actually ate a TON of food. Win win. She also loved playing the little peg puzzle game.

THREE. If you go to Cracker Barrel, you are required to goof around in their store before and/or after the meal. Kaya had fun trying on a Halloween witch’s hat! (photocredit to my Dad-in-law, obviously, because I was too busy photobombing this with my legs…) 🙂

FOUR. Someone figured out how to ride the rocking horse on her own (although she still needs help getting on and off), and she’s in love. One more horse girl for the family! 😉_MG_9471 FIVE. Because guinea pigs and burlap and fall flowers all together are pretty much an explosion of cute._MG_9480

Happy weekend!

Linking up here today!

five on friday (09/11)

Happy Friday! 🙂 Here we go…

ONE. Big, big, big news- my baby is walking!!! She took her first steps on Wednesday, and I’m so proud. She uses something to support herself (usually the toy shopping cart), but hey, she’s moving, and I think she isn’t far from doing it all on her own._MG_9204TWO. Of course, I can’t tell you she’s walking without showing you a video, too. She’s surprisingly quick!

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

THREE. Our new favorite spot to hang out lately is in the den with the guinea pigs! Both girls can sit in there for long periods of time (long by toddler standards, anyway), just watching them. Kaya loves to read them books and is even sure to show them the pictures._MG_9226Kaya’s got a heart like her mama, no doubt about it. Animals are so special to her.collage09112015_1

FOUR. We have one more week until Kaya’s birthday! It’s been so much fun to see her get so excited about it this year. She talks about it every day and just can’t wait for family to come celebrated with us. We picked up some party supplies this morning… can you tell what the theme is? 🙂

FIVE. This little girl was totally a no-nap ninja yesterday… but she’s still so cute, even when she’s sad and cries big crocodile tears. Just look at that lip! At least I got cuddles. 🙂Happy Friday!

Linking up here today!

five on friday (09/04)

Happy Labor Day weekend! We are soaking up the last of these summer days 🙂 Here’s our top five from this week:

ONE. Kaya is suddenly obsessed with rainbows, so much so that she keeps telling me she wants a rainbow birthday cake… with a cat on top. Of course. She became a crazy cat lady at the record age of 2.

We’ve been playing with sidewalk chalk a lot lately, so this week, we made a rainbow together. She was over the moon. I love my happy girl.
TWO. We also tried out the big kid playground this week… and Kaya can climb this shaky bridge with no problem now. She’s been asking to go back nearly every day since. I still can’t believe my little baby has grown into such a big girl so fast.
THREE. Speaking of babies growing up, take a look at this little girl sporting her tiny ponytail! It totally makes her look so much older, and all I can think of when I see this photo is a line from my favorite Sara Evans song: “our little ponytail girl, grown up to be a woman, and she’s gone in the blink of an eye”. A couple more blinks of the eye and she really will be all grown up.
_MG_9159FOUR. These sisters love doing almost everything together, and this week, Kaya asked to hold Baba as they went down the slide. I hope she’s always so willing to help her baby sister and that they always love doing things together.
FIVE. Michael isn’t the seminary teacher anymore (he was released just before the start of the school year), but I was asked by the new teacher to make them some surprise cinnamon rolls for breakfast this week. It’s my mom-in-law’s recipe, and it must have left a lasting impression the last time I made them, because all the students were so excited to have them again. I’m so glad I got to do something for these kids who wake up at the crack of dawn every day to attend seminary.
And for all the guinea pig lovers… happy “wheek-end” from Freyja 🙂_MG_9173

Linking up here today!